How to Copyright your Work in India

Last Updated at: Jul 06, 2021
Copyright Your Work
The makers of the recently released film ‘Khaali Peeli’  may face legal trouble over copyright infringement issues. As per a report,  they have not sought official permission from pop star Beyonce Knowles before using her name in the song ‘Beyonce Sharma Jayegi’. 


This article is written by Vandhana

Creativity is the key to success. A developed economy is a creative economy. For economic and social development of the country, it is important that we think out of the box and set our standards by developing new and original work. This is where copyright laws play their role. Let’s see how to copyright your work in India.

How? Once you do something creative, innovative, you will want to protect it because you would have put your time and hard work in it. Moreover, you would have put your intellect in it. Certainly, its human tendency to protect what is yours. That’s when people will copyright their work.

In general connotation, copyright includes two words- Copy + Right = Copying someone’s right, and such violation is governed under the Copyright Law. The moment you copy someone else’s law, you are commenting on the crime of copyright infringement.

Copyright in India

The Indian Copyright Law does not clearly define the term “copyright”. Copyright is a right by the law to creators, composers, artists, producers. Thus, any other person who copies the original work would amount to infringement under the Copyright Act. Copyright ensures certain minimum safeguards of the rights of authors over their creations.

Copyright can almost be claimed for anything – be it script, art, drama, music, compositions, cinema- the only criteria it has to satisfy is that it should be Original and not available in the public domain. If these are satisfied, then voila!! You can copyright your work.

Let’s understand the difference between Original Work and Work available in Public Domain

One peculiar thing about copyright law is that it protects only those works which are truly original in nature and emphasises creativity in it. There is another kind of work that is derivative work which is a remake, remix or new version of pre-existing work which is again original in its own way and also involves creativity.

Let’s define the term –  ‘original work’

The Act per se does not define the term anywhere and we have to rely on various judicial pronouncements to define original work. The Court has interpreted section 13 of the Act to determine the term Originality. The following parameters are to be considered:

  1. Whether the idea and expression intrinsically have a connection. (Doctrine of Merger)
  2. Whether the work has a creation with skill and labour by the author. (Sweat of the Brow Doctrine)
  3. Whether the work possesses a minimum degree of creativity. (Modicum of Creativity Doctrine)
  4. Whether the work is created with mere skill and labour or whether the work possesses skill and judgment. (Sweat of the brow/ Skill and Judgment Test)

Once these parameters are determined, and the answers are affirmative, then your work is original in nature and copyrightable.

On the contrary, public domain works are those works which can be freely used by the public and are not protected by copyright law. When any work is said to be under public domain, the public, in general, is considered to be the owner of that work and using that work will not amount to infringement. Under such circumstances, anyone can use the work for their personal benefits.

original work  can be used by the owner and not by anyone else without permission by the original owner works under the public domain work do not require user permission for using the 
creator of the work is the owner of the original work common public is the owner of the work available in the public domain 
In the case of original work, once registered all resources are available when any persons do any unauthorised use of the work. once the work is published in the public domain, no resources are available in case of infringement
No changes or modifications can be there  in the original work if no done- separate copyright has to apply for it when work from the public domain is used- by giving due credits to the owner, the work can be altered as per the user.

Therefore, the work in the public domain cannot be subjected to infringement and no remedies are available in such cases. 

copyright Your work

Methods to protect your work

Copyright protection in India is automatic as soon as any work is created in any form of material. However, one of the easy ways to protect your work is Get it registered and enjoy all the benefits of the registered copyright holder. This is purely voluntary at the option of the creator to register or not. 

Benefits of getting the work registered:

  1. Record of public ownership

Having registered copyright will help the author of the work to present the record of ownership in the public. This means that when the work comes in the presence of the work, the author will have full ownership of the work. Ownership is always a major deciding factor in all infringement cases and therefore having a valid record of ownership will act as a prima facie evidence.

2. Presumption of ownership

Until contrary proved, the one with registered copyright work will be the owner of the work. Anyone challenging the ownership will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the owner is not valid. 

3. Enforcement in case of infringement

Though the Act per se does not mandate registration of the Copyright, however, to claim against the infringer and to legally protect the work, registration is necessary. A copyright owner cannot file the suit if it does not have a valid registration.

4. Prevention from monetary loss

One of the main benefits of registration is to escape from other monetary loss which can happen due to piracy of the copyrighted work. In certain cases like websites or software- piracy has become a legal issue and has resulted in a financial loss to many companies.

5. Protects the reputation of the owner of the work

Once work is with copyright registration, no one can use the work without prior permission of the owner. Additionally, this is a benefit upon the owner as of the work and the reputation of the person can easily have protection. 

How to get your work registered? Click here to know the entire procedure of copyright registration in India.

But, what if the first publisher of the work has not done the registration of the work? Can he still protect his work?

It is the basic conception that registration follows copyright and not vice versa. Unlike the other IPR Regulations, Copyright law does not mandate the registration of the copyright. However, it is always advisable to get it registered, as it acts as a prima facie evidence. Nonetheless, the only thing matters when it comes to the first publisher is that the work should be original in nature, and if that condition has satisfaction, the publisher can easily protect the work. 

As a matter of fact, copyright subsists in work whether with registration or not, there if the conditions under Section 51 that satisfy, then it would amount to infringement and claims can be against the person while proving the infringement. The owner of the work has to prove that the infringer has a clear knowledge of the work existing in the market and he has intentionally infringed his rights. 

As far as copyrights work concern, the similarity in the material will test to check for infringement. However, if the publisher 

  1. Grants license to anyone to use his work or,
  2. Further, sells any part of the work in public or,
  3. Fair use of the work is claimed, 

In such circumstances, the publisher will lose or extinguish his rights to protection.

Therefore, in a nutshell, copyright law does not necessarily require registration of the work for claiming protection under the law. But, it is always advisable by the IPR Attorneys that to claim extra benefits, registration is necessary.